Cloaking device

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A '''cloaking device''' is a form of [[stealth]] technology that uses selective bending of light (and other forms of energy) to render a [[starship]] or other object completely invisible to the electromagnetic spectrum and most sensors. It has been encountered in varying forms over the centuries.
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A '''cloaking device''' is a form of [[stealth]] technology that uses selective bending of light (and other forms of energy) to render a [[starship]] or other object completely invisible to the electromagnetic spectrum and most sensors.
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==Realism==
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Active cloaking devices are fundamentally unrealistic - if a ship bent light around itself, it could not be seen, but it would also be blind. The same would apply to other methods of detection; if the ship avoids those signals, then it can't ''receive'' those signals, either.
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If a cloak somehow "traps" sensor pulses, it will quickly accumulate heat. This problem is worsened by the need to trap waste heat from the ship's own power supplies. A cloaked ship using the gigawatt-range [[power generation|power supplies]] typical of science fiction [[starship]]s would cook its crew in short order.
  
 
==Cloaking Devices in ''Star Trek''==
 
==Cloaking Devices in ''Star Trek''==
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The purpose of a cloak is to prevent detection before combat and when fleeing combat, and cloaking devices have been able to hide vessels from all but the most advanced scanners and tracking systems.  Cloaking devices are usually used for stealth, and their combat use is usually limited to moving into position for an ambush.  For example, the early cloaking device was a perfect supplement to the [[Romulan]] [[Plasma torpedo|plasma weapon]] allowing the [[Romulan Bird of Prey|Bird of Prey]] to approach as close as possible to deploy the limited-range weapon for maximum effectiveness.
 
The purpose of a cloak is to prevent detection before combat and when fleeing combat, and cloaking devices have been able to hide vessels from all but the most advanced scanners and tracking systems.  Cloaking devices are usually used for stealth, and their combat use is usually limited to moving into position for an ambush.  For example, the early cloaking device was a perfect supplement to the [[Romulan]] [[Plasma torpedo|plasma weapon]] allowing the [[Romulan Bird of Prey|Bird of Prey]] to approach as close as possible to deploy the limited-range weapon for maximum effectiveness.
  
The early cloaks were proprietary technology of the Romulans.  In the first recorded instance of military use of a cloaking device against a [[Starfleet]] vessel, the cloaked Romulan vessel was completely invisible to visible light and targeting scanners, but she could still be detected on motion sensors and was tracked in this manner by the ''[[Enterprise]]'' throughout the engagement near the [[Romulan Neutral Zone|Neutral Zone]].  This form of tracking proved poor for targeting and precision movement, forcing [[James T. Kirk|Captain Kirk]] to lay down a pattern of weapon fire in hopes of catching his target.  (TOS, "Balance of Terror")
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The early cloaks were proprietary technology of the Romulans.  In the first recorded instance of military use of a cloaking device against a [[Starfleet]] vessel, the cloaked Romulan vessel was completely invisible to visible light and targeting scanners, but she could still be detected with subspace motion sensors and was tracked in this manner by the ''[[Enterprise]]'' throughout the engagement near the [[Romulan Neutral Zone|Neutral Zone]].  This form of tracking proved poor for targeting and precision movement, forcing [[James T. Kirk|Captain Kirk]] to lay down a pattern of weapon fire in hopes of catching his target.  (TOS, "Balance of Terror")
  
Later on as part of an ongoing technology-sharing program, the [[Klingon]]s gained the cloaking device and Romulans abandoned their existing warbird design in favor of Klingon vessels like the D-7 (TOS, "The Enterprise Incident").  Klingons began using cloaking devices on their own [[Klingon Bird of Prey|Bird of Prey]] designs, as seen in the [[Genesis Device|Genesis]] incident when Kruge's Bird of Prey penetrated deep into [[Federation]] space destroying the USS Grissom and ambushing the Enterprise utilizing the cloaking device. (''[[Star Trek III: The Search for Spock]]'')
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Later on as part of an ongoing technology-sharing program, the [[Klingon]]s gained the cloaking device and Romulans abandoned their existing warbird design in favor of Klingon vessels like the D-7 (TOS, "The Enterprise Incident").  Klingons began using cloaking devices on their own [[Klingon Bird of Prey|Bird of Prey]] designs, as seen in the [[Genesis Device|Genesis]] incident when Kruge's Bird of Prey penetrated deep into [[Federation]] space, destroying the USS Grissom and ambushing the Enterprise utilizing the cloaking device. (''[[Star Trek III: The Search for Spock]]'')
  
 
The performance characteristics of cloaking devices have changed over time.  For instance, the Klingon cloaking device in ST3 created a visible distortion effect when the ship was in motion, but it successfully hid the ship from all other forms of detection.  As seen in the TNG era and onward, the cloaking devices available to the Klingons and Romulans have grown much more sophisticated.  Klingons cloaks are so advanced that even when cloaking and decloaking within several kilometers of [[Deep Space Nine]], the sensor suites could not accurately track the Klingon vessels (DS9, "Way of the Warrior").  Romulan Warbirds were also able to approach the station completely unseen and decloak within several kilometers despite the station being at battle stations, a Klingon fleet and Federation vessels all within range and expecting a [[Dominion]] attack. (DS9, "By Inferno's Light")
 
The performance characteristics of cloaking devices have changed over time.  For instance, the Klingon cloaking device in ST3 created a visible distortion effect when the ship was in motion, but it successfully hid the ship from all other forms of detection.  As seen in the TNG era and onward, the cloaking devices available to the Klingons and Romulans have grown much more sophisticated.  Klingons cloaks are so advanced that even when cloaking and decloaking within several kilometers of [[Deep Space Nine]], the sensor suites could not accurately track the Klingon vessels (DS9, "Way of the Warrior").  Romulan Warbirds were also able to approach the station completely unseen and decloak within several kilometers despite the station being at battle stations, a Klingon fleet and Federation vessels all within range and expecting a [[Dominion]] attack. (DS9, "By Inferno's Light")
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In certain rare instances, cloaked vessels have been spotted by the naked eye, such as in ''Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,'' or the external visuals in ''Star Trek: Nemesis.''
 
In certain rare instances, cloaked vessels have been spotted by the naked eye, such as in ''Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,'' or the external visuals in ''Star Trek: Nemesis.''
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===Realism===
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Cloaking, as described in ''Star Trek'', has all of the realism issues described at the beginning of this article. Dumping waste energy into [[subspace]] won't solve the problem, since Star Trek ships have subspace sensors that would be expected to detect such emissions, foiling the cloak.
  
 
==Cloaking Devices in ''Star Wars''==
 
==Cloaking Devices in ''Star Wars''==
Cloaking devices have been mentioned a couple of times in the ''Star Wars'' movies, but they have only been described in use in post-movie novels.
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Cloaking devices have occasionally been mentioned in the ''Star Wars'' movies, but never actually seen in operation. In ''[[Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back]]'', when the [[ISD]] ''Avenger'' loses track of the ''[[Millennium Falcon]]'', Captain Needa questions the possibility that his target engaged a cloaking device because a ship that small shouldn't have one. In ''[[Star Wars: The Phantom Menace]]'', [[Qui-Gon Jinn]] asks if [[Padmé Amidala|Queen Amidala's]] yacht has a cloaking device, but [[Captain Panaka]] informs him that it does not.
  
In ''[[Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back]]'', when the [[ISD]] ''Avenger'' loses track of the ''[[Millennium Falcon]]'', Captain Needa dismisses the possibility that his target engaged a cloaking device because the target ship is too small to have one.
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In the ''Heir to the Empire'' series of novels by [[Timothy Zahn]], [[Thrawn|Grand Admiral Thrawn]] employs cloaking devices in several ways.  According to these novels, a ship can avoid detection with a cloaking device, but the cloaked ship is also completely blind, limiting the usefulness of the device.
  
In ''[[Star Wars: The Phantom Menace]]'', [[Qui-Gon Jinn]] asks if [[Padmé Amidala|Queen Amidala's]] yacht has a cloaking device, but [[Captain Panaka]] informs him that it does not.
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In ''[[Star Wars: The Clone Wars]]'', the second-season episode "Cat and Mouse" shows a prototype cloaking device. This cloak made the ship invisible to normal sight and most sensors. There was a distinct shimmering effect when engaging or disengaging the cloak. This cloak allowed a trace amount of "magnetic energy" to escape, which eventually allowed the cloaked ship to be tracked by enemy sensors and missiles. Unlike the devices used in ''Heir to the Empire'', this cloak was not "double-blind", thus possibly explaining the leakage and its status as an important, cutting-edge prototype.
  
In the ''Heir to the Empire'' series of novels by [[Timothy Zahn]], [[Thrawn|Grand Admiral Thrawn]] employs cloaking devices in several ways.  According to these novels, a ship can avoid detection with a cloaking device, but the cloaked ship is also completely blind, limiting the usefulness of the device.
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===Realism===
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While not much more realistic than cloaks from other settings, the "double-blind" aspect of ''Star Wars'' cloaks is a slight improvement in realism over cloaks that allow a ship to hide from sight and sensors without experiencing any limitations on its own sensor capacity. The "magnetic energy" leakage of the device from ''The Clone Wars'' also improves realism: if the ship is absorbing enough energy to see, it needs to release a similar amount to avoid heating up.
  
 
== Cloaking Devices in Stargate ==
 
== Cloaking Devices in Stargate ==
The Goa'uld posses some level of cloaking technology which can be used on both a human scale as well as on the scale of small spacecraft such as [[Al'kesh-class bomber|Al'kesh]] and [[Tel'tak]]s. For the most part cloaking devices on the scale of capital ships such as [[Ha'tak-class Mothership|Ha'tak]] are beyond the technical capacity of the Goa'uld, with the notable exception of that of [[Sokar|Sokar's]] realm. [[Puddle Jumper]]s are also equipped with cloaking devices which can be interfaced with Atlantis' shields. In late 2006, [[Daniel Jackson]] gave the ''[[USAF Odyssey]]'' the ability to cloak.
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The Goa'uld posses some level of cloaking technology which can be used on both a human scale as well as on the scale of small spacecraft such as [[Al'kesh-class bomber|Al'kesh]] and [[Tel'tak]]s. For the most part cloaking devices on the scale of capital ships such as [[Ha'tak-class Mothership|Ha'tak]] are beyond the technical capacity of the Goa'uld, with the notable exception of that of [[Sokar|Sokar's]] realm. [[Puddle Jumper]]s are also equipped with cloaking devices which can be interfaced with Atlantis' shields. In late 2006, [[Daniel Jackson]] gave the ''[[USAF Odyssey]]'' the ability to cloak. The [[Asuran|Asurans]] also fielded cloaking device on their warships.
 
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Revision as of 22:08, 6 January 2012

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